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Please note that Mommsen uses the AUC chronology (Ab Urbe Condita), i.e. from the founding of the City of Rome. You can use this reference table to have the B.C. dates


V. The Establishment of the Military Monarchy

From: The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Old Rome

Chapter XII - Religion, Culture, Literature, and Art


Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader

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Page 6

The New Pythagoreanism - Nigidius Figulus

But by far the most remarkable phenomenon in this domain was the first attempt to mingle crude faith with speculative thought, the first appearance of those tendencies, which we are accustomed to describe as Neo-Platonic, in the Roman world. Their oldest apostle there was Publius Nigidius Figulus, a Roman of rank belonging to the strictest section of the aristocracy, who filled the praetorship in 696 and died in 709 as a political exile beyond the bounds of Italy. With astonishing copiousness of learning and still more astonishing strength of faith he created out of the most dissimilar elements a philosophico-religious structure, the singular outline of which he probably developed still more in his oral discourses than in his theological and physical writings.

In philosophy, seeking deliverance from the skeletons of the current systems and abstractions, he recurred to the neglected fountain of the pre-Socratic philosophy, to whose ancient sages thought had still presented itself with sensuous vividness. The researches of physical science--which, suitably treated, afford even now so excellent a handle for mystic delusion and pious sleight of hand, and in antiquity with its more defective insight into physical laws lent themselves still more easily to such objects--played in this case, as may readily be conceived, a considerable part. His theology was based essentially on that strange medley, in which Greeks of a kindred spirit had intermingled Orphic and other very old or very new indigenous wisdom with Persian, Chaldaean, and Egyptian secret doctrines, and with which Figulus incorporated the quasi-results of the Tuscan investigation into nothingness and of the indigenous lore touching the flight of birds, so as to produce further harmonious confusion.

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